CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan-- The Japan Minister of Defense, Takeshi Iwaya, visited Yama Sakura 75 at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan, Dec. 15, 2018.

Iwaya toured the facilities of the exercise and spoke to Soldiers from across America's First Corps and the Japan Northern Army about his appreciation of the forces' alliance and his gratitude for the two Armies to work closely together.

Yama Sakura is a joint, bilateral exercise between the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. Army, augmented by the U.S. Marines, Navy and Air Force. The exercise enhances the relationship between the U.S. and Japan through the exchange of ideas, techniques and tactics to keep the region secure. The exercise is a simulation of American forces deploying to aid in the defense of Japan.

This is Iwaya's first visit to Yama Sakura as the Minister of Defense.

As Minister of Defense, Iwaya oversees the Ministry of Defense, which is charged with preserving the independence and national security of Japan through the JGSDF.

The Minister of Defense is appointed by the Prime Minister of Japan.